Services for women involved in the Criminal Justice System

Women involved in the Criminal Justice System are highly likely to be victims as well as offenders. Over half the women in prison report having suffered domestic violence with 53% of women reporting having experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse as a child.

Some facts about women in Criminal Justice system according to Prison Reform Trust:

  • Across the UK, around 12,000 women are imprisoned each year.
  • Although women are less than 5% of those in prison, they account for over 19% of self-harm incidents, an indication of the traumatic impact of imprisonment on many.
  • Women entering prison are more likely to have been imprisoned for non-violent offences.
  • Many of them have dependent children - an estimated 17,240 children are separated from their mothers by imprisonment every year.

The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Justice said:

"(...) If we are to rehabilitate female offenders, we must take proper account of the realities of their lives and ensure that resources are best targeted to help more women turn their lives around."

In Wandsworth, to reduce the number of women sent to prison, the Whole System Approach (WSA) to females over 18 years who are involved in the criminal justice system or at risk of offending was adopted.

Women in Prison supports women affected by the criminal justice system and campaigns to end the harm of prison to women, their families and our communities. They are delivering services for women under the Wandsworth Women’s Hub initiative.

The service is part of South London Women’s Hubs project which is a collaboration across six South London Local Authorities, National Probation Service (London), London Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), Women in Prison and several other VCS providers, supporting women who have offended, with one to one advocate support for up to 18 months across six boroughs in South London.

Wandsworth Women’s Hub provides a safe space from which a wide range of support and advocacy can be accessed:

  • The hub facilitates co-location with the probation services, so that women on statutory court orders can be seen in a safe and women-only environment
  • A trauma-informed advocate is located at the hub, and additional support for women outside of the hub’s opening times is also provided
  • Consistent and regular support and advocacy, both practical and emotional on the issues underlying a woman's offending behaviour is provided as well as other holistic interventions that are tailored to the women's individual needs
  • Trauma-informed and gendered approach is adopted to empower women to break the cycle of offending and to gain support for long-term recovery

How to access this service

The South London Women’s Hubs are an open access service in which women can self-refer or be referred by a wide range of partner organisations ranging from Children’s Social Care, Substance Misuse services, CRC, NPS, VAWG providers, Health, Courts, Prisons to the Police.

For a woman to be eligible to access the Wandsworth Women’s Hub she will need to:

  • Be a resident of Wandsworth or with a local connection to the borough
  • Have no more than 2 years since last involvement with the Criminal Justice System